The IWMF Condemns Online Attack of Indian Journalist Rana Ayyub

April 26, 2018

The IWMF is distressed to learn about the dangerous online attacks and social media campaign against award-winning Indian journalist Rana Ayyub.

Since April 22, when a fake tweet that defended child rapists and said that Muslims are not safe in India was falsely attributed to Ayyub, dangerous online attacks against her have escalated. Her face has been morphed in videos and content calling for her to be gang-raped “if she didn’t stop talking against Hindus and [Narendra] Modi,” has been circulating widely. Most concerning, she has been doxed, that is her address and personal phone number have been made public, creating the real possibility for her cyber-attacks to become physical attacks. Although the fake tweet and account have since been deleted, other fake tweets have been circulating.

Harassment in journalism and the media industry has risen to the forefront of public attention. The online world is where journalists experience most threats. When journalists are targets of online abuse, the attacks take a toll on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The chilling effect on individual journalists and journalistic lines of inquiry can lead to the silencing of diverse voices in the media.

The IWMF supports Rana Ayyub and all women journalists and their right to free expression online and everywhere. We urge that these attacks be investigated by government authorities and the appropriate online platforms and that every effort is made to stop the attacks and to hold those responsible to account.

The IWMF is the only NGO that offers emergency support, safety training, and reporting opportunities, all tailored to female journalists — both established, and up-and-coming. We have been documenting violence against female journalists for nearly 30 years, including the only report assessing the status of women in the news media, Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media, as well as the only global report on violence against female journalists, published in partnership with INSI, Violence and Harassment against Women in the News Media: A Global Picture. Currently, IWMF is partnering with on a survey of U.S. journalists on online abuse to be released in June 2018.